The small ochoko (oh-CHO-ko) cups that you see (bamboo round cups and the white ceramic cup) are good for hot sake, but are not great for chilled artisan sake. They don’t leave you enough room for swirling or sniffing to enjoy the aroma.
I like to use white wine glasses, a large champagne glass (top of photo) or a beautiful cocktail glass to allow the artisan sake to breath. The large bowl gives me more room to swirl and really enjoy the clarity of the sake and the aroma. I sometimes use a martini glass, but honestly I’m too much of a klutz to drink out of a martini glass!
The wooden box, called masu (MAH-soo) is on the right in the photos. You can drink sake out of a masu, but I find that the wood gives off too much of a taste and aroma – which hides the delicate nature of artisan sake. There are laquered masu boxes that work well, as the laquer seals in the wood and does not give an aroma or taste. I do love the texture of the soft wood on my lips though.
Sake “flights” are becoming popular and consist of 3-4 different sake – a great way to taste and compare several side-by-side.
Premium sake should always be served chilled, NEVER hot or at room temperature. Heating premium sake destroys its aromatics and flavors. Once opened, sake will remain fresh for up to one week. Unopened, it will be most fresh when consumed within the year of purchase.